Remembering Kennedy's Famous Berlin Speech 50 Years Later
50 years ago today, American President John F. Kennedy made an impassioned speech in front of Berlin's City Hall, declaring famously, "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner). The speech was watched by 1.1 million—more than 50 percent of Berlin’s population—and from the other side of the border, by small groups of East Berliners unable to even wave because of the presence of the East German People's Police. When Kennedy declared, "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, 'Ich bin ein Berliner'," he gave a morale boost to West Germans who were still coping with the fact that the Wall had recently been erected.
26 years later, the wall would come down, uniting the people of Germany, but throughout the city you can still see the effects of what borders do physically to a place—and how they can psychologically affect people. So remembering Kennedy's speech today can also be a way to honor and stand in solidarity with those still affected by borders, walls, and barriers that still separate and divide people around the world. As Kennedy remarked, “freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.”
Add reading "Martin Luther King's Six Steps to Nonviolent Social Change" to your To-Do list here.
Image via Wikimedia Commons